RomanceCozy MysteryCat in an Alphabet Endgame by Carole Nelson DouglasTemple Barr is planning her wedding to Matt Divine. Matt is still unsure whether it will work out – there are some evil men who are threatening him and his future happiness. There are two caches of money missing here in Las Vegas – one from the old Irish Republic Army and one stolen by a gangster a few decades ago before the mobs lost control in Vegas. Max Kinsella could regain his memory and want Temple back – who would she choose? If the wedding is not stopped, there is still the future. Does Matt want to take the television counseling show offered to him in Chicago? Or should he keep his radio show and stay in Las Vegas where Temple is established in her career? Midnight Louie could give him some advice, but Matt doesn’t speak cat. Louie has his own problem – where is he going to live once his roommate marries Matt? That king size bed barely fits petite Temple and his own marvelous ebony body to be able to share with Matt as well.

Cat in an Alphabet Endgame is the 28th and final book in Carole Nelson Douglas’ Midnight Louie Alphacat series. Like the other books in the series, Cat in an Alphabet Endgame is light and humorous even while dealing with bad guys and death and love triangles and illegitimate children and robbers and weddings and alley cats and retired mob bosses and policemen. Readers of the series will enjoy all the threads being pulled together into the final fabric of the story.

If you haven’t read the earlier books, Cat in an Alphabet Endgame isn’t the place to start. Each book in the Midnight Louie series is in two intertwined parts: 1.  a mystery per book that is solved by Midnight Louie and Temple with help of their friends and 2. the over arching story of Temple Barr and her loves and frienemies. We met them in Cat in an Alphabet Soup (fka Catnap) while Max was Temple’s missing other and Matt was the new guy (and ex-priest) next door. Enduring characters start appearing immediately, including Electra Lark, Temple and Matt’s landlady, and Lt. Carmen Molina, a homicide detective investigating Max.

If you decide to read the books, they’re all easy to read cozy mysteries, some better than others. These are escapism novels and quick to enjoy.

Cat in an Alphabet Endgame is an uneven read, especially in the first third. Douglas has so many past plot points to pull in and characters to explain that her wording gets unwieldy at times. Although she has Louie give a synopsis at the beginning of Cat in an Alphabet Endgame, parts and pieces still need to be referred to as the story comes together.

By the half way point all past explanations are pretty much out of the way and the story becomes fairly straightforward. Cat in an Alphabet Endgame brings together the mysteries and the romance and settles all the characters, including Louie and his clowder of cats. Most of the conflict and Temple’s wedding occur in the first three quarters, then there are the final ties that need to be made. This is a cozy mystery, so the bad guys from the series get put away and everyone lives happily ever after.

Well, most of these characters live happily ever after. But this is Las Vegas…

More books by Carole Nelson Douglas

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Guilt by Emma Kaufmann

Posted September 29, 2016 By Jandy
 

Guilt by Emma KaufmannMysteryEmma Kaufman’s Guilt presents Gilda, a writer, parent, and sister.  She and her brother Clive who happen share an analyst have had a somewhat dysfunctional familial situation during their growing up years.  What Gilda does not realize when she sets off on a book tour is that Clive has been gibbering the family secrets.    Possibly Dr. Gerber might be able to halt the destructive developments surrounding Gilda and Clive from reaching a predictable conclusion; it may already be too late.

Dora is certain there is a something her mother is hiding; and she is resolute for trying to learn what it is.  Clive and his young sweetheart, Tania, are longtime friends of Niko’s.

Emma’s daughter Dora commences then ends an affair with Gilda’s old beau Niko before she and Niko’s son Dan develop a strong interest in one another. Of course, the duo has known one another since childhood, nonetheless they have not been amorously inclined in the past.

Niko and his son Dan are struggling to understand their own, at times tempestuous association when Dan suddenly is shot dead while painting a portrait of Tania. Tania commissioned the painting as a surprise for Clive.

It is from these entwined, tangled and, at times a bit disheveled relationships comes a from time to time, baffling narrative filled with longing, hugger-mugger, pledges completed and others severed, and at times even a bit of manic dependence. The police endeavor to disentangle the mystery, and discover who, how and why Dan has been shot only to find themselves powerless to do much with the evidence at hand.

The one bright spot for Gilda and Dora in the midst of this emotional drama ensuing from the dysfunctional, twisted upbringing of Gilda and Clive, as they try understand and remove themselves from their unsettled past; is the birth of Dora’s baby Sophie.

In her well penned narrative, Guilt, Emma Kaufman has fashioned a slice of life type drama jam-packed with engaging circumstances, entertaining players and interesting life experience. The anxiety Dora feels in her connection with her mother is one many readers will recognize completely. The dreadful little family secret theme is one many have experienced to one extent or another. The reader is drawn into the narrative from the beginning when Dora seduces Mom’s male friend. It is only later that we appreciate how momentous this action has been.

Kaufman presents her characters as fully established humans filled with life, anguish, longing for contentment and many of the very fragilities, infirmities and warts as beset us all.

Guilt seizes and embraces the reader’s consideration through Kaufman’s keenly honed attention to detail. Kaufman fashions a drapery of highlights, resonances, aromas and spirits as the reader is motivated along to the predictable conclusion.

Not for everyone. Those who are looking for a brisk little bit of lather are not so likely to relish this compelling work. On the other hand Guilt is a dandy read for those who like a bit of plotting and deeper meaning in their reading.

A persuasive psychodrama outlining the prosperities of siblings Gilda and Clive, and their efforts to distance themselves from a less than stellar past; Guilt is a spine tingler of a narrative of assassination, disorder and emotional release.

Analyst, Dr. Gerber, observes casually as the performance unfolds. For him, the players are not human, they are degraded, providing him only case studies in psychopathology.

Link to Amazon.com Books

Vortex by Cherry Adair

Posted August 24, 2016 By Jandy
 

Romantic SuspenseRomantic SuspenseVortex by Cherry AdairWhile searching for a sunken treasure ship, Logan Cutter pulls an injured woman out of the ocean. Dani Rosado lies to Logan as to why she’s in the water in the middle of nowhere off the coast of Peru. He can’t just dump her back in the water, so Cutter keeps her on the ship with his crew as they search. Dani knows the history of the treasure they are trying to find and is there to help them. Admittedly, she didn’t want to be there, but she’s on the run and her cousins dumped her to get to Logan.

The first thing Dani does is lead Logan to the map where the treasure really is rather than where they are looking. According to her family’s lore, the treasure was removed from the flag ship and sailed away to protect the precious emeralds and other cargo, but it was caught in a storm and sunk further south. She wants to stay hidden away in the middle of the Pacific on Logan’s ship. No one from her real world should find her there. Helping Logan find the treasure keeps her on board. Now she wants to protect him from her cousins. Even more, she wants to protect herself from the evil man who is hunting her.

Logan hates liars. He knows Dani is lying to him about why she was in the ocean. But instead of immediately taking her to the mainland, he keeps her on board. She obviously knows more about the treasure than she is letting on. He wouldn’t have found the map if she hadn’t “innocently” pointed it out to him. What else does she know?

Vortex is a romantic suspense full of treasure hunters, bad families, good families, a steamy romance, and greedy evil people. Cherry Adair reveals Dani’s secrets slowly so the full impact of her trouble hits harder once Dani finally reveals all to Logan. Adair’s hints throughout keep the reader pulled in.

The romance enhances the build up of the suspense. Vortex uses the classic “I can’t trust her but I can’t resist her” plot. Adair makes it believable for Logan to change his own normal actions to take on this woman and her problems.  Dani is an honest character caught in a bad situation whose inner guilt convinces her to reveal her story to Logan, albeit slowly.

Sunken treasure and hot romance. A woman in trouble and a man who rescues her. Vortex keeps the reader satisfied.

Notice: Explicit sexual content, Non-graphic violence, Strong language

More books by Cherry Adair

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Dire Salvation by Charles B. Neff

Posted June 28, 2016 By Jandy
 

MysteryDire Salvation by Charles B. NeffReviewed by Molly

Charles B Neff’s Dire Salvation begins at 5:52AM, day one mid-june 2011 as Calla Ogden ponders the after midnight  telephone call regarding her younger, 23 year old half-brother Lonny.  It was the police.  Lonny was in custody and it was not the usual petty theft, occasional public drunkenness or other nuisance activity that included occasional drug usage that had brought Lonny to custody.  This time he was being held for his possible involvement with a suspicious death.

Calla, 37 years old, half native American, half Czech, unmarried, social worker with county social services embarks on a rollercoaster of worry, duty to family and duty to job, forming a friendship with the new mayor and discovering that things are not always as they seem at first glance.

A 7:30 AM meeting with her lawyer Sonia D’Amico propelled Calla into her day, filled with her leading a hike for the local Native Plant Society, of which she was a member, and worry for her younger sibling who is forever marked by his mother’s alcohol use during her pregnancy.

At 6:30 am Greg Takarchuk, Ukrainian, is tapped by the chief of police for Swiftwater and Portal, Washington, to sit in on the preliminary investigation being conducted by the local Sheriff Department into the death Lonny Ogden may have caused.

Jason Ferris sat in front of his computer’s dual monitor display at 7:16 am, same day, he was assessing the streaming data appearing in the 4 split screens filling the two monitors.  Jason learned as a child living with a heavy handed father to disappear within himself in a family dominated by brutality administered with a belt.

8:11 am Phil Bianchi, widowed, 52 years old, a journalist for many years; Phil had returned to Swiftwater to become the editor of the local paper 7 years ago.  When his wife died just a year after his return to Swiftwater Phil was urged by friends to run for the office of Mayor.  He won.

With the introduction to four of the main players in the tale; the reader is carried along on the journey each will make during the investigation into the death of a local, sometime drug user, male who worked at the Salmon fish hatchery run under the auspices of the Yakama Indian Tribe with support from the county, the state and the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The narrative moves to a road house, sheriff’s office, the local fish hatchery, and the town of Swiftwater and Portal.  Writer Neff has crafted a somewhat meandering tale in which Phil Bianchi and Greg Takarchuck deal with their own personal angst while playing pivotal roles in the investigation.

A well delineated timeline coupled with well plotted storyline peopled with notable characters serve to grasp reader interest and bring writer Neff’s mystery to life for the reader.

Characters are well fleshed, dialogue is credible and serves to focus storyline set against an evocative backdrop of small town intrigue arising in the Cascade Mountains.  The mystery unfolds via writer Neff’s understanding of the area portrayed coupled with personal research.

Neff draws upon a lifetime of experience having taught on the university level, served as administrator at four U.S. universities, led international development projects in Colombia and Russia to provide grist for his novels.

I like the practice used via labeling chapters with date and interspersing the hour during the time frame a particular anecdote, meeting, confrontation and the like take place.  I find the technique not only furthers reader interest, but keeps the reader turning the pages to learn what is coming next. This particular tale elapses over a thirteen day period filled with action, some drama, human interaction, sound conversation between characters as well as even a little romance as characters find themselves drawn toward one another.

A thought-provoking twist is found in choice of the murder weapon, i.e. the deceased ate chocolate chip cookies laced with what the natives to the region call Salvation, dimethyltyptamine, a hallucinogenic drug.

Neff’s north-west Washington setting is foreshadowed with the cover of the book.  My army brat husband noticed the graphic used for the front cover and immediately pin pointed the work as one having to do with the area in which he lived during high school years as his military dad settled in the Washington area close to Fort Lewis ashis choice for retirement.

I found Dire Salvation to be an interesting, tale perfect for a hot summer day spent on the front porch sipping iced tea and reading a nifty tale woven with credible situations, persons, a little Yakama lore and a red herring or two to keep the reader on their toes and not be led astray.

More books by Charles B. Neff

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Cold Company by Sue Henry

Posted June 24, 2016 By Jandy
 

Mystery Cold Company by Sue HenryCold Company: An Alaska Mystery
Sue Henry; Avon 2003
WorldCat

After an arsonist destroyed her home a few months earlier, Jessie Arnold is building a new log cabin on her property.  For now she lives in a Winnebago parked to the side of the lot. She is still with her mushing dogs and their kennels and can watch as the construction crew works on her new home from the basement up.

Unfortunately, the new cabin comes with a surprise. As they’re digging out the basement, a skeleton is uncovered. Everything stops as the police and coroner are called in. The skeleton has been there a while – probably from before the time she bought the property. She’s still waiting for the paperwork to be replaced after the fire, so has to investigate the previous owner.

Construction is delayed and the team doesn’t have much to do. Jessie only knows a couple of them – the others are summer hires. A musher from Minnesota Jessie had met on a race the past winter appears at her trailer. Lynn Ehler has decided to move to a new home in Alaska to live and train his dogs. Since she broke up with Alex Jensen after he moved to Idaho, she agrees to go out Lynn for dinner soon.

Jessie is a bit concerned when someone has a single red rose delivered to her door. Two more are delivered over the next couple days, including one that arrives while she’s out for dinner with Lynn at the local bar. The third one was left inside the Winnebago, so she calls the cops in.

There have been some murdered women discovered along the Knik River near her home. They are reflections of the victims of the most notorious serial killer in Alaska. The man in safely in jail, but someone may be copying him. Jessie learns that three single roses had been delivered to the victims before they disappeared. Is she the next target?

Cold Company makes an Alaska summer vivid in the long daylight, the lushness of the rugged countryside, the melting glaciers, and the steadiness and strength of its inhabitants. Sue Henry brings her home territory to life as the background for a well crafted mystery.

In the 1970’s through the early 1980’s Alaska, Robert Hansen was killing women and was the most horrific serial killer in the state’s history. Henry used that case as a reflection for the serial murders in Cold Company. Jessie’s story is occasionally interspersed with scenes connected with the new killings. Henry uses these scenes judiciously, enough to keep the reader’s interest piqued, but not overdone to pull away from Jessie’s own mystery.

Cold Company isn’t gruesome but it has its chilly moments. The reader has to know what happens but isn’t put off my scenes of blood and gore. Interesting mystery against a lush background rather than the harsh environment of an Alaskan winter.

More books by Sue Henry

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‘Til Death Do Us Part by Amanda Quick

Posted June 17, 2016 By Jandy
 

Historical RomanceMystery'Til Death Do Us Part by Amanda QuickDating services are not a modern institution. There have been matchmakers for time immemorial. Calista Langley has an introduction service to introduce like minded people. She has to be very careful to make sure London society doesn’t look upon her services as that of a bordello rather than a service for prospective couples. One of her clients is Eudora Hastings. Her brother, Trent, writes popular detective novels.

Calista is being bothered by Nestor, a man she saw a few times. He has since married but wants Calista to have an affair with him. While Nestor is visiting Calista (much to her chagrin), Trent enters her home and business. Trent doesn’t want his sister using Calista’s service because he doesn’t think it’s respectable. Once she is able to convince him of the legitimacy of her business, she discovers she needs his help. Someone appears to be sending her death gifts.

Soon Calista, Trent, Eurdora, and Calista’s brother Andrew are involved in a real mystery similar to those in Trent’s novels. They learn about some servants’ and governesses’ deaths. Those women had received the same gifts before they were killed. Now it appears that Calista has been receiving death threats.

Calista is a strong modern woman. She feels she still has to care for her brother who is now a young man. Andrew researches her potential clients to make sure they meet Calista’s standards. He enjoys the challenge and becomes helpful in the mystery threatening Calista.

‘Til Death Do Us Part has Amanda Quick’s (Jayne Ann Krentz) distinct enjoyable style. It’s witty and smart, with sexual tension and a sharp romance. Nestor is appropriately slimy. Andrew is enthusiastic and youthful, on the cusp on manhood. Eudora proves to be a good friend. Trent carries guilt, blaming himself for the death of their parents. Yet he is still a man’s man of the time.

Quick takes the mores of Victorian England and is able to relate them to today. While they were morally much stricter, people like Calista and Trent are able to work within their system to have a romance that appeals to the modern reader.

The mystery is twisty and keeps the reader guessing. ‘Til Death Do Us Part is a good mystery and sensual romance.

More books by Amanda Quick.

Link to Amazon.com Books

The Lake House by Kate Morton

Posted April 14, 2016 By Jandy
 

SuspenseThe Lake House by Kate MortonIn the 1930’s Alice Edevane’s baby brother disappeared from his crib at the family home in Cornwall. The Edevanes hosted a large party that evening so there were many possible suspects. But the boy was never found. Seventy years later, Alice is a best selling author of dark psychological suspense novels.

Sadie Sparrow is a London police constable on enforced leave. She’s spending her “vacation” with her grandfather in Cornwall. She’s antsy and needs a challenge since she can’t work. She decides to look into the decades old kidnapping. Sadie starts investigating old files at the library. She writes to Alice and her only living sister requesting interviews. She contacts the only living police officer from the original investigation. It was one of his first cases and he has kept his own notes even after the case was shelved. Together, they start investigating the cold case again.

Kate Morton has crafted a story a suspense reader will love. Morton follows three times and three groups of people. It goes between the 1910’s, the 1930’s and 2003. The Lake House is the Edevane family home in Cornwall. Alice’s parents inherited before she and her sisters were born. They had a magic relationship. Her father went to work as a medic in World War I, but never was able to finish his degree to be a doctor after his return.

By the time she was 16, Alice knew she wanted to be a writer. She was madly in love with the gardner and knew her parents wouldn’t approve. She snuck around meeting him, discussing her fantasies with him, and took him the draft of her first novel of a kidnapping for hire. But the night of the party he brroke her heart. Then her baby brother went missing. Would he have been taken if she had gone where she was supposed to be that evening? Her family fractured when the boy wasn’t found dead or alive.

Sadie Sparrow is on enforced leave because she wouldn’t let a missing person case drop. A divorced mother disappeared. Her ex-husband talked about her discontent with her life. Her mother can’t believe she would leave her little girl. Sadie agrees with the mother, but there is no evidence that anything happened to the woman. It seems she walked away from her demanding life. As she starts working the old kidnapping case, Sadie keeps finding parallels between the two situations.

Morton superbly weaves the three tales together jumping between eras, leaving just enough apparently unrelated clues to the whole cloth that is The Lake House. The backstory in the 1910’s is a bit bloated, dragging down the pace of the first third of the book.

After that, as Morton leads the reader through the different situations, the reader gets caught up. By the end, the threads have come together in a completely unexpected pattern. The final twist is unexpected and the crown of the book. I kept shaking my head in appreciation as I thought it through when I finished the last page.

For a stunning suspense novel, you won’t go wrong with Kate Morton’s The Lake House.

Link to Amazon.com Books

Wings Above the Diamantina by Arthur W. Upfield

Posted February 26, 2016 By Jandy
 

MysteryWings Above the Diamantina by Arthur W. UpfieldIt’s the Bush Outback in the 1930’s, with cattle ranches further than the eye can see in Western Australia. While checking out the ranch one day,  manager Nettlefold and his daughter Elizabeth discover a monoplane landed on one of the few flat patches on the ranch. In it is a paralyzed girl strapped in the front seat. She couldn’t have flown the plane from the front, but there aren’t any tracks on the sandy ground showing a pilot walking away. They take her back to the house and call in the doctor and local policeman.

The mysterious girl is alive but can’t move a muscle, not even her eyelids. The Nettlefolds didn’t look in the plane for any identification. The next morning when they return, the plane has been blown up and burned. Again, there aren’t any visible footsteps anywhere around other than their own. Sergeant Cox calls in to his superiors for help. It comes in the form of the famous Inspector Napoleon “Bony” Bonaparte, the half-caste policeman who works on the intriguing crimes in the Bush.

The airplane had been stolen the night before the girl was found from a visitor in the nearest town. Only two local people in the region know how to pilot a plane. Neither of them claim to have flown it although they went out when the owner discovered it missing. Whoever it was knows the area well in order to escape without being noticed by the locals. They may be spread out in miles, but the region is like a small town where everyone knows everyone else’s business.

Bony has to discover who the paralyzed girl is, why she is in the Outback, who drugged her and with what, who stole the plane, and why all this has happened. He examines all the people involved, from the people within the Nettlefold’s home to all the surrounding ranches and the people in the closest town. Something has to lead to the solution of the mystery and the identity of the person who tried to kill the girl in an airplane crash. That person will succeed if an antidote isn’t discovered.

For years my father and sister have been telling me to read the “Bony stories”. I picked up copies when I noticed them in the used bookstore, I finally picked this one up and was immediately enchanted. Arthur W. Upfield brings a sense of reality to the vastness, tamed wilderness, dangers, and joy of the Australian Outback 80 years ago.

Wings Above the Diamantina is well plotted with non-existent tracks, a practically impossible plane crash landing, people’s secrets, and family histories all twined together. Upfield keeps the reader guessing and adds comedy and romance to maintain interest.

I was interested to see that people and attitudes don’t change with time. Wings Above the Diamantina was published in the mid-1930s. The nearest town, Golden Dawn, is a small, dying town in the middle of nowhere. It once had been bigger, but the nearby mine has played out and now there are only the ranches and those people needed to support civilization. Only last month I read The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, which is about another small, dying town in Iowa.

About a third of the way into Wings Above the Diamantina Bony is driving across the Outback with the ranch manager. Nettlefold observes that the lessees of the land don’t care what is happening to the earth around them. He says “the face of Queensland was destined to be altered by the end of another hundred years”. Environmental concerns are still an issue. I wonder what differences Upfield would see if he could visit the region now.

For good, classic mystery writing, check out Arthur W. Upfield’s Bony series. Wings Above the Diamantina won’t be the last one I read.

Link to Amazon.com Books

Deadly Dining by William Manchee

Posted February 14, 2016 By Jandy
 

MysteryDeadly Dining by William MancheeReview by Molly

William Manchee’s Deadly Dining A Stan Turner Mystery set in the late 1990s opens with Stan ruminating about his wife Rebekah’s mysterious illness.  7 May, 1997 Stan has just brought Rebekah home from the hospital following a parathyroidectomy; he hoped life would soon be back to normal after more than a year of illness culminating with stroke like symptoms and the surgery.

Settling in for the evening the pair are shocked as the evening news on TV recounts how 4 patrons enjoying their dinner at local eatery, Emilio’s Italian Restaurant, have suddenly become deathly ill, have collapsed during dinner and have been rushed to Medical City Hospital where 2 of the 4 are DOA and the other 2 are fighting for their lives.

Stan and Rebekah have eaten in the restaurant in the past. Emilio Belucci and his retired model wife, Eva, have been luckier than many beginning a new business; the restaurant has flourished from its opening.  And, now this.

It is not long before Stan and his law firm, Turner & Waters are retained by Emilio to represent waiter Ricard Ricci who is the prime suspect in the poisoned Parmesan Cheese topping deaths of Bill and Donna Rice, and John Richardson.  Only Richardson’s wife Sandy recovers from the incident.

It is not long before Turner & Waters find themselves facing three situations at once.  Paula Waters, partner with the law firm, will handle the defense of Ricardo Ricci, while Stan undertakes a Chapter 11 bankruptcy designed to protect Pakistani immigrant, Ram, Ramadan Bakira, who invested $250,000 in a local grocery, Pakimart, specializing in ethnics foods.

Firm associate Jodie Marshall is given the task to prepare a defense for one Bob Larson who in the exercise of a Good Samaritan situation seems to have been over zealous and was the cause of jewelry store owner Herb Stein to be shot by thief Michael Mahoney.  Stein is now suing Larson for pain and suffering.

Jodie soon has her ducks in a row prior to her court battle defending Larson, and offers to give Paula a hand in helping with the investigation needed to prepare the defense for Ricardo as Stan is busy with the unexpected problems surrounding what should have been a shut and dried bankruptcy.

Adding to ongoing dilemma is the fact that Stan keeps disappearing for several hours at a time.  Suddenly straight arrow Stan is coming under increasing scrutiny by the women on his staff who suspect that he is having an affair.

As always writer Manchee has skillfully woven an intricate narrative complete with a very public triple homicide complete with film of the death throes replayed on TV. Nevertheless the perpetrator responsible for the gruesome crime as well as the motivation have Paula befuddled as she tries to sort how the two couples and the accused waiter might have crossed paths.  Even if a crime for hire, Ricardo as a hired killer seems a bit thin.

Paula Waters usually relishes a case filled with twists and turns however when she thinks she finally has it all figured out, her trial outline prepared and is ready for the Monday court date Dec 1, 1997 she is dismayed to learn two of her witnesses have disappeared. Paula’s dismay grows when Stan tells her he will hustle to help, but their whole premise surrounding the killings in the Belucci Restaurant have been in error, and, they have the weekend to get their facts and witnesses in order.

Between Stan’s preoccupations with the bankruptcy he is working on, helping Jodie Marshall, recently named as firm associate ready for her first trial with the Larson defense and Stan’s disappearing act; Paula is more than a little peeved with the man she would like to have had an affair with when she and he first began working together several years, books, before.

Filled with the twists and turns and the red herrings we have come to associate with Manchee and his Stan Turner mysteries, Deadly Dining is a marvelous addition to the growing body of work produced by this talented attorney writer who says he finds grist for his writing in the cases he has worked on in his lawyering work.

Settings are well defined, descriptive situations, locales, and behaviors all show an innate realization of the human mind and its workings.  Characters are well fleshed, bad guys are often really bad, and good guys may not really be all that good.  Surprises abound, ultimately the murders are solved satisfactorily as is Stan’s unexpected, rather loutish, behavior.

The law firm is intact, solvent and everyone in the office is ready for the next go round.

Hopefully the next Stan Turner Mystery is well into production and will be ready soon for review.

Happy to recommend Deadly Dining for those who enjoy a well written, fast paced, highly readable work sure to intrigue the most discerning reader.

More books by William Manchee

Link to Amazon.com Books

Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs

Posted February 14, 2016 By Jandy
 

Paranormal RomanceRomantic SuspenseParanormal RomanceFrost Burned by Patricia BriggsAfter being dragged out on Thanksgiving night for Black Friday shopping by her step-daughter, Mercy Thompson has a panic attack and crashes the car into another. By the time they get the report made, she and Jesse were delayed home. The panic attack came through her bond with Adam. There werewolf pack has been subdued and kidnapped. If she and Jesse hadn’t crashed they would have been taken too.

It takes a lot for a human to overpower one werewolf, let alone an alpha like Adam, let alone a full pack. But someone has learned the secret. One werewolf escaped capture and has found Mercy. They takes Jesse to a (hopefully) safe house. Just in case, Mercy asks a half fae friend, Tad, to watch over home of the single mother and her children. Then Mercy and Ben head over to another home where they find Kyle, the partner of another werewolf, tied to a chair with two men beating him up. The men are trying to find out where Mercy and Jesse are.

What Mercy learns is worse. Some government renegades are behind the attack. They want Adam to kill an anti-werewolf senator. Mercy is supposed to be their leverage. They’re able to free Kyle. Mercy knows Adam is still alive through their mental bond. He is seriously hurt. But Mercy is a descendant of Coyote. She may be a shapeshifter; she also has access to unusual magic. She doesn’t always know what she can do until she tries.

Now Mercy, Ben, Kyle, and Tad have to prevent a war that would leave the human vulnerable to the magical creatures – the vampires, the fae, the witches, the werewolves, and more that hide in plain sight.

I’m really not sure how Patricia Briggs does it. Each Mercy Thompson novel is as powerful as the previous, if not more so. Frost Burned starts on a humorous note of dreaded Black Friday shopping. Within minutes, the action starts and the reader gets sucked into Mercy’s world again. Mercy’s dry humor prevents Frost Burned from turning too dark to read. Instead, each new obstacle takes the reader in deeper.

When Mercy first realizes she and Jesse have to dump all tracking devices and phones, she borrows the local vampire queen’s precious Mercedes. There is no GPS or any other sort of tracker on the car, plus it has bulletproof glass and tinted windows. It’s a beautiful. By the time she can return it to Marsilia, a werewolf has bled all over inside it, Mercy has been thrown against it, it gets crashed, carries a dead body in the trunk, and has a zombie fae smash out of it. The car return won’t be a pretty scene, and Mercy’s dread of that is one of the weaving threads that holds the lightness throughout Frost Burned despite the fantasy violence.

Briggs plots a mystery that changes every time Mercy learns a bit more. I was fairly sure I knew where the story was going. Ha!

Frost Burned has enough back story in it that it could be read alone. But I recommend going back to Moon Called and reading these all. You’ll like Brigg’s Frost Burned even more.

Notice: Graphic fantasy violence

More books by Patricia Briggs

Link to Amazon.com Books

 

Secret Sisters by Jayne Ann Krentz

Posted January 4, 2016 By Jandy
 

Romantic SuspenseRomantic SuspenseSecret Sisters by Jayne Ann KrentzHer grandmother died and Madeline Chase is now in charge of the family innkeeping business. She gets an urgent call from Tom, the old caretaker of their first bed and breakfast on an island off the coast of Washington. They had closed it down and moved away after Madeline was attacked 18 years earlier. Now Madeline returns to Washington.

She walks into a mystery. The caretaker is dying after being assaulted by an unseen intruder. Tom apologizes to Madeline when she finds him. He gives some cryptic clues as he fades in her arms. Now Madeline calls for help.

First she calls the head of security for the business, Jack Raynor. Jack calls the company IT specialist, his brother Abe. Then Madeline calls Daphne Knight. Although she hasn’t seen her best friend since that long ago night, Madeline has never forgotten her. Daphne leaves Las Vegas and heads to Washington. It’s almost as if the two girls hadn’t parted.

The attack was kept secret between Madeline, her grandmother, Tom, Daphne, and Daphne’s mother, as well as the attacker. But someone seems to have found out. Tom is dead. Perhaps her grandmother didn’t die of natural causes. And someone is trying to kill them.

I look forward to Jayne Ann Krentz’ new books under both her own name and her pseudonyms. Secret Sisters is her newest contemporary romantic suspense novel. This book held me fast. The mystery twists around on itself and the romance. Although expected, the romance is hot.

Secret Sisters is not only a romance and a mystery, but the story of how women reconnect. Madeline and Daphne haven’t seen each other in 18 years. But they have kept track of each other and know much of what is happening to each other. When they meet in Washington again, they discover their friendship is as close as it was when they were children. They are sisters of the heart.

There’s an extra bit of fun in the second chapter when Madeline is dumping the couples therapist she has been dating. If only all women could take that kind of power.

I felt the last few Krentz novels had been rushed and lightweight even though I enjoyed them. Secret Sisters is a stronger book. Krentz creates an overhanging atmosphere that keeps the book feeling like it’s always night, yet is not oppressive or chilling. A convincing conclusion and sparking romance kept me pulled in right through to the end of Secret Sisters

Notice: Strong sexual content, Non-graphic violence

More books by Jayne Ann Krentz

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Long Upon the Land by Margaret Maron

Posted October 18, 2015 By Jandy
 

Cozy MysteryLong Upon the Land by Margaret MaronWhen Kezzie Knott, Judge Deborah Knott’s father, finds a man’s body on his property, he contacts his son-in-law, Sheriff Dwight Bryant. The man appeared to have his head bashed in, then bled to death. As Dwight starts investigating he learns the man abused his wife and had no friends. He also had a grudge against Kezzie. Rumors start flying around Dobbs, North Carolina. Perhaps Kezzie is responsible for the man’s death. Dwight doesn’t seem to be investigating very deeply, does he? Read the remainder of this entry »